Like many divorce situations, this is not a simple “yes” or “no”.  In some divorces, one spouse moves out voluntarily – sometimes before a case is filed.  In some divorces, spouses are able to stay in the house together while working through the issues in the cases.

Whether you or your spouse moves out – and when – depends on the circumstances of your marriage, your family, and your finances.  Those circumstances include:

  • How old are your children, if any? Are they school age?
  • Which parent has historically been primarily responsible for the children’s care?
  • What is the family’s financial situation? Can you afford two households right away?
  • Is there another place to which you or your spouse could move quickly and cost-effectively? Perhaps a rental property you own?  Or a friend or family member’s house?

It is best to discuss these things with your spouse and work out an agreement between the two of you.  If you can’t reach an agreement with your spouse, consult with your attorney to discuss all available options.  Your attorney will help you build options and hopefully avoid a contested hearing on the issue.  Your attorney will also help you organize information about your finances that will assist in option-building.  It’s important to start working on a budget as soon as possible.

If a hearing is necessary, the Judge has the power to order a spouse to leave the residence while the case is pending.  If the Judge orders one spouse to move out, that spouse will be able to take clothes, shoes, and other personal items.  Usually, that spouse will also be able to remove a portion of the household furniture, furnishings, kitchen items, and other personal property.  As part of the preparation for the court hearing on this issue, you should prepare a list of items that you want to take with you if you move out.  If something is unique, irreplaceable, or sentimental, you should make sure you include it on your list.